Chief Clerk Reading Bills in Council

COUNCILMEMBER GILMORE RICHARDSON’S BILL LIMITING THE SALE OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA PASSES UNANIMOUSLY OUT OF COMMITTEE

In Council News, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, News by PHL Council

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(PHILADELPHIA) April 19, 2021 – Today, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson’s bill, number 210159, which would modernize the definition of drug paraphernalia and help the City better enforce the code against businesses that intentionally skirt the zoning process passed unanimously out of the Rules Committee:

“We are seeing these stores pop up overnight, applying for permits as groceries or convenience stores, advertising that they are candy stores, but it is clear, they are only operating to sell tobacco and drug paraphernalia, said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large). These businesses don’t improve our corridors, they don’t create jobs for our young people, they don’t build wealth for our families. They skirt our rules so they can sell drug paraphernalia right next to candy bars. In Philadelphia, we believe that community members should have a say over the kinds of businesses that operate in their neighborhoods, and that’s exactly what this legislation will do. It will especially help Black and brown communities where these stores are predominately appearing. If we say we are committed to racial equity, we need to ensure we listen to communities of color and equip them with the tools they need to address quality of life issues in their neighborhoods. I want to thank the community members who testified today in support of this legislation and my colleagues for their support.”

Bill No. 210159 was supported by community leaders from neighborhoods across the City.

Testimony of Linda Colewell-Smith, Vice President, Holme Circle Civic Association:

“…a neighborhood store located on the direct route to an elementary school “ostensibly” sold phones and tobacco products, but was also selling drug paraphernalia including bongs, glass pipes, blunts, etc. The worse items being sold, however, were soda & juice cans with false bottoms, which could be used to either hide illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, or even be bought with drugs in them – and this store would sell these items to anyone regardless of age. Because of the then-current law, it was hard for Holme Circle Civic to get this store shut down – but for one day, when the store was caught selling cigarettes to young children…”

Testimony of Bonita Cummings, Director, Strawberry Mansion Community Concern:

“We hear the Mantra Black Lives Matter, yet the areas that have been hardest hit are those that are predominantly African American. Therefore, in the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement, how can we expect our black youth to be successful if we knowingly allow businesses to enter our communities and, again, decimate any and all opportunities for their economic or wealth growth.”

Testimony of Sheila A. Howard, JumpstartTioga:

“Our business corridors need stores that provide goods and services that contribute to the health and well-being of our residents. Stores selling drug paraphernalia is not consistent with our mission and does not provide the diversity of business options that is desperately needed in our community.”

Testimony of Shantey Lindsay, Committeeperson, 42nd Ward, 4th Division:

“This is a quality of life issue and they serve no positive contribution to the community and in particular our youth, who could be misled by the long term effects of using these type of products.”

Testimony of Rick Sauer, Executive Director, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations:

“PACDC’s members, which includes organizations that work to revitalize and improve the conditions of our neighborhood commercial corridors, have repeatedly contacted us to express frustration about nuisance business, including those that have a large collection of drug paraphernalia for sale and operate all hours of the day. These stores often attract other illegal activity that negatively impacts neighborhood commercial corridors, as well as nearby businesses and residents.”

Testimony of Michelle Schley, Leader, 17th Ward:

“The sale of Drug Paraphernalia is a risk to the public safety and Health of the community. This bill was designed address these issues. It is with great

Anticipation that I look forward to the passing of this Bill.”

Testimony of Donny Smith, Executive Director, Mayfair Business Improvement District:

“Over the years local residents and business owners have told me that these “Candy Stores” are selling illegal cigarettes, and that they may also be participating in the sale of illegal narcotics either directly on the premises, or through individuals that are stationed very close by. Time and time again I have been asked, “how can we stop this” by residents as well as business owners, and I applaud Councilmember Gilmore Richardson for her efforts to do just that.”

The bill will have its first reading during City Council’s Stated Meeting on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

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